Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Island County Votes to Increase Sales Tax for Transit

Voters in Island County, WA approved a sales tax for transit by 55% to 45% on August 18. The three-tenths of 1 percent increase would boost the local transit sales tax to 0.9 percent to support Island Transit's bus system. The system, which operates fare-free, has recently been struggling due to declining tax revenues, despite consolidating routes and saving nearly $700,000. The threat of more route consolidation and cuts has been abated by the recent measure. Revenues in 2010 are expected to be about $6.6 million, with the increase generating about $2.2 million of that.

A tax increase was last approved by voters in 2000.

1 comment:

michaelebailey said...

I just got the September copy of the "Update" Newsletter. It is full of great news for everyone who thinks transit is an important transportation option to provide safe efficient service and make major cuts to green house gas and ozone layer depleting chemicals. I wish more decision makers supported transit like they do in North Carolina and that vohters were more engaged on important transit issue like in Island County. I am in Orange County in southern California. Here, the Governor and Legislature did a budget deal that eliminated state support for transit operations altogether in February. A State Superior Court in Sacramento and a State Court of Appeals both ruled this was illegal and that raiding the transit fund must end. The Governor and Legislature ignored the courts and the fund is still being raided. The result, no state funding for transit operations.
The Orange County Transportation Authority that runs the bus system here has responded with a program going into effect on Sunday that will cut 100,000 hours of service from the bus system and complete a year long process of service cuts that on Sunday will have resulted in the layoffs of over 300 drivers and mechanics, while at an OCTA Board presentation at the end of last month, a plan was put forward to eliminate 300,000 more bus service hours by June next year. This may include elimination of entire routes. One Board member asked, "Do we really need a public transportation system at all in Orange County." AC Transit up in Oakland is also talking about the possibility of eliminating entire bus routes. But OCTA decided about two years ago to wed ACCESS paratransit service to fixed route service so now with fixed route busses starting later in the moring ending earlier in the evening, and on some routes no service on weekends. ACCESS and the people who need to depend on it are affected. If there are route eliminations, that means no ACCESS service at all on those routes. And that means disabled persons will be stranded. The OCTA contracts with union drivers and mechanics is up this December. It is expected there will be a transit strike this year that could last into next year as a result of how drivers and mechanics have been treated. ACCESS drivers will also be layed off but they are none-union drivers. So this is what we have instead of support for a good, well working, dependable transportation system. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.